Taking on the house – meet history’s most audacious roulette cheats

Even the most law abiding among us are fascinated by crime, and the more complex it is, the more fascinated we are. Casino cheats are perhaps the most remarkable criminals of all. While tales of murder, shoplifting or burglary will likely do nothing but make us feel vaguely depressed, the thought of anyone getting away with anything at a casino with all its security staff, cameras and other controls immediately grabs our attention.   

Roulette is one of the oldest casino games, but even in today’s era of online gambling it remains one of the most popular, especially in the major iGaming markets like the UK and Canada. Any one of the recommended online casino sites at gambleonline.co/en-ca/casino/real-money/ has several versions of roulette you can play. Today, you can be confident that roulette and all the other online casino games are fair and carefully monitored, but in years gone by, that wasn’t always the case.   

Charles Wells broke the bank at Monte Carlo  

There’s an old music hall song entitled The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo. It was inspired by Charles Wells, a 19th century con man who defrauded victims in France and England through a variety of scams. In 1891, he visited the Casino de Monte Carlo, installed himself at the roulette table and just kept winning until he “broke the bank” – meaning the table ran out of money and the casino had to open the vault to pay him.  

Wells broke the bank not once but four times in succession. He walked away with the equivalent of $4 million in today’s money, and although he claimed it was thanks to his “infallible system,” there was widespread speculation that something underhand had taken place, and this was just another of his well-planned scams. 

Monique Laurent, the real life Bond villain 

Femme fatale Monique could have stepped straight from the pages of an Ian Fleming novel when she entered the majestic Casino Deauville in 1973. She won around $1 million at the roulette wheel, and this time, we know exactly how.   

Monique had paid off the dealer and given him a special roulette ball that contained a radio receiver. She was able to control the ball from a device concealed in her cigarette pack, telling it exactly where to stop. Sometimes reality is more bizarre than our wildest imaginings.  

Ocean’s Three at the Ritz 

Finally, a mystery that calls to mind another famous movie franchise. In 2004, two men and a woman arrived, immaculately dressed, at London’s exclusive Ritz club for an evening at the roulette wheel. They left with winnings of £100,000. The following night they returned and this time they won more than a million.  

Security footage showed the trio constantly looking at mobile phones and investigators eventually discovered they had used a laser scanner in a phone to send information to a laptop that would calculate where the ball would come to rest. Yet to perform this sort of calculation in time to place the bet is beyond even today’s technology, never mind that of almost 20 years ago. To add to the mystery, the gang was never seen again, and there have been no reports of similar incidents. 

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